Access, engagement and relationships are vital links to a connected community. March is Indiana Disabilities Awareness Month, and the theme is "Community Connections."

Access, engagement and relationships are vital links to a connected community. March is Indiana Disabilities Awareness Month, and the theme is “Community Connections.”

What do puppies and disabilities have in common?
Both have their own Awareness Campaigns.

By Nancy Bounds
ADEC Staff

When I worked as a newspaper reporter, one of the “news” tips we often received and respectfully ignored were those involving awareness months. I and my colleagues affectionately referred to them as “disease of the month” or “cause of the month.” But for the agencies representing the causes/diseases, it was a very big deal to have the mayor sign a proclamation declaring January for Glaucoma or April for Autism. Those proclamations validated the importance of the causes, didn’t they? A mayor’s signature demanded attention, didn’t it? So why did they, the community journalists, not take it as seriously?

Every month has a cause. Heck, every day has a cause. In defense of my former journalistic cynicism, here’s a link to show you: http://www.national-awareness-days.com/; and here’s another one, more tongue in cheek: http://aware.easilyamused.org/ Journalists don’t want to write about proclamations any more than you want to read about them. (Really, you don’t.) Journalists want to write what you want to read – stories. People’s stories. Stories showing the impact of that cause or disease. If Helen, who lives with a developmental disability, finally speaks her first words at age 63, that’s a story. So what if she does it in November instead of March, the designated month for disabilities?

Yes, March is Indiana Disabilities Awareness Month. I’m on the other side of the news desk now, working in the marketing department at ADEC, Inc., a non-profit agency based in Bristol, IN, that has been providing supports and services to children, adults and families living with the challenges of disabilities since 1952. I get it now why agencies like ADEC love having a month designated for their cause. It’s a cluttered, noisy landscape in the nonprofit world today. It looks a lot like an elementary school classroom when a teacher asks a question and 10 hands pop up. Lots of groups, each one worthy, clamor for attention. Pick me! Pick me! Like the teacher, you have only so much attention to give. So how do you choose which organization to support?

You choose the ones that stand out. (Really, you do.)

We all know now to wear red in February for heart health and pink in October for breast cancer. Less known but growing in awareness is blue in April for Autism. Those monthly designations give nonprofits a window of time earmarked just for them. March is the window for disabilities, so we’re launching ADEC’s new blog this month while we have your attention, while the spotlight is on.

But March is just the start.

Follow ADEC’s blog, and you’ll read about two new exciting campaigns, one involving a marathon and another technology. You’ll meet staff who use creativity to solve problems and improve lives. You’ll meet clients, like Helen, who have stories to tell and needs to be met. You’ll meet parents and siblings and learn their unique perspectives. You’ll read stories about people – and an agency – who stand out. Every day. Every week. Every month.

And FYI…
March 21 is Down Syndrome Awareness Day.
March 22 is World Meteorological Day.
March 23 is my favorite, National Puppies Day.

Welcome to the ADEC blog!

Want to read more? Here’s a blog for parents of children with special needs written by a mom.
http://www.parents.com/blogs/to-the-max/tag/national-developmental-disabilities-awareness-month-2013/

ADEC's bell choir performs at the 2012 Autism Awareness event.  This year's program will be at 10 a.m. April 27 at Kardzhali Park in Elkhart

ADEC’s bell choir performs at the 2012 Autism Awareness event. This year’s program will be at 10 a.m. April 27 at Kardzhali Park in Elkhart